WILD camping on Dartmoor has been ruled as legal by top judges on the Court of Appeal.

Wild camping IS allowed on Dartmoor, says Court of Appeal

WILD camping on Dartmoor has been ruled as legal by top judges on the Court of Appeal.

Dartmoor National Park has been successful in challenging a previous ruling brought about by wealthy landowners whose lawyers had discovered a loophole in the Dartmoor Commons Act which left the legality of wild camping on the land open to unclear interpretation.

The act was passed in 1985, but a grey area paved the way for a judge to deem wild camping illegal in the National Park. Until that point, Dartmoor was the only place in England where wild camping was allowed without prior permission from the landowner.

Today’s case completely relied on the interpretation of whether or not camping counted as ‘open-air recreation’. Lawyers acting for landowner Alexander Darwall claimed it did not count because ‘sleeping’ did not constitute enjoying a particular outdoor activity.

However, Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) lawyers, together with the Open Spaces Society, were adamant that backpacking and camping on the moorland was a tradition dating back centuries.

This afternoon, at the Court of Appeal, Sir Geoffrey Vos, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Newey, closed the case by ruling that wild camping was indeed open-air recreation and should be allowed on the common land.

“In my judgment, on its true construction, section 10 (1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 confers on members of the public the right to rest or sleep on the Dartmoor commons, whether by day or night and whether in a tent or otherwise,” concluded Sir Geoffrey.

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